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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Of politicized SLAJ, Guild of Editors, IMC and bogus Civil Society: Why the despicable silence?
By Revd Wilfred Kabbs-Kanu ( Guest Writer )
Oct 24, 2012, 17:04
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They are all useless, worthless and politicized organizations, not worth their salt, by any stretch of imagination. The Sierra Leone Association of  Journalists (SLAJ), the Guild of Editors, the Independent Media Commission (IMC), the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission, the so-called Campaign For Good Governance and the growing number of bogus civil society and human rights organizations in Sierra Leone have all outlived their usefulness.  If there is ever any political conflict in Sierra Leone, it will not come from the pro-government and independent media. All these bogus and counterfeit organizations mentioned in this article are in fact the forces who will bring chaos to our beloved country, if their partisan and anti-people activities are not watched and corrected.

 

The reason for our pessimism is obvious. All these organizations  are not only hypocritical  but they have abandoned their roles as watchdogs of the nation and have become part of the political problems in the country with their one-sided interpretation and handling of matters of national concern to the nation.When the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) is accused of any offence, these organizations go on the rampage to condemn the government and splash the news in the international media. When the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) is the offender, none of these organizations utter a word. We are surprised and disappointed that since three very important events happened in Sierra Leone, none of these organizations has had the guts to speak out, not to mention, condemn them, though if the ruling APC Government had been accused of perpetrating the offences, all these organizations would have been tripping over each other to condemn the government.

 

There could have been sheer cacophony in the nation and in the international media. Here are the events :

 

RECENTLY, an attempt was made by the politicised IMC  to muzzle the outspoken AWARENESS TIMES  newspaper and its sister paper, THE SENATOR  because they were accused of engaging  in a slanging match with the INDEPENDENT OBSERVER in the press during which obscene messages were traded against each other. The three newspapers were suspended and heavily fined. Though the IMC is responsible for regulating the media in Sierra Leone, the trouble with the decision was that firstly, there were opposition SLPP newspapers ALSO involved in pornographic journalism that were not punished.

 

The female publisher of AWARENESS TIMES, Madam Sylvia Blyden was the victim of these lewd articles by the SLPP media. There is no way that an impartial IMC would have overlooked these scandalous writings. The newspapers that published them should have been suspended too. Though there were 3 newspapers involved in the IMC action, there is no doubt that the target of the suspension was really Awareness Times, about whom the SLPP  had been complaining bitterly for the past months after the paper started exposing the unsuitability of the partys presidential candidate, Maada Bio.

 

Since this sad event happened where three of the countrys newspapers were subjected to unlawful and unconstitutional abridgement of their rights to publish without restraints, neither SLAJ, nor Guild of Editors or Amnesty International or the Human Rights Commission or the Campaign for Good Governance or civil society groups have condemned the action.

 

Rather, a jubilant SLAJ speedily endorsed the action.

 

What a difference it would have been if the action was taken by the APC Government. Umaru Fofana, the SLAJ President, who doubles as BBC Correspondent, would have run to the BBC to report to the world that the government had interfered with press freedom. Fofana would have done the same if an SLPP newspaper was the victim. SLAJ would have also condemned the IMC for the suspension and fines. Amnesty International and foreign correspondents in Sierra Leone would have done the same. (EDITORS NOTE: The High Court has placed an injunction on the IMC action, forbidding execution, until the matter is legally examined to determine whether IMC followed legal guidelines).

 

On Monday October 8th 2012, a foreign journalist from France, in Sierra Leone to cover the elections, was set upon by SLPP supporters while he was busy filming the partys march in the city after the nomination of their flagbearer and running mate. The man was beaten up, abducted and dragged to the SLPP Headquarters where he was grilled and his money and equipment seized. A man - a relative of APC Government minister, Mr. Alpha Kanu- who was alleged to have been with the journalist, was equally beaten and kidnapped and held against his will at the SLPP HQ.  Since the event happened, nothing has been reported in the international media and neither SLAJ nor any of the bogus human rights organizations or civil society and the IMC, has said anything.

 

If APC supporters had carried out the attacks, there would have been a din in the BBC and Reuters.Amnesty International, CGG etc. etc. would have condemned it. If all these organizations, and the  foreign correspondents living on our hospitality and enjoying our foofoo and bitter leaves, cassava leaves and palm oil stew, think they will help Sierra Leone consolidate peace and strengthen our democratic institutions by taking sides with the SLPP, they are mistaken. They are only contributing to the dangerous act of polarizing relations between the APC and the SLPP.

 

On October 11th 2012, SLPP supporters fought at their headquarters and one of them was stabbed and seriously injured. From a cursory glance you would say that it is an SLPP issue and so it does not deserve the attention of monitoring and human rights organizations. WRONG! Though it was SLPP supporters inflicting injury on one of their own, the event exposed the fact that SLPP and Maada Bio supporters have an inclination to be violent, a trait they have demonstrated many times, not the least the orgy of violence, hacking and stabbings they perpetrated during last years bye-elections at Fourah Bay, for which they were never adequately published and the dangerous event under-reported in the BBC and the foreign media. Also, Bios supporters have constantly injured many SLPP fanatics in fights at their HQ.

 

What these events show is that Mr. Bios supporters are very dangerous and will not flinch to unleash violence and chaos during the elections. If they cannot spare their own, whom will they let go unharmed? Bios violent supporters are a threat to peace in Sierra Leone. Therefore, we expected the organizations and civil society to have condemned the fight and stabbings at the SLPP HQ because the incidents demonstrate  oncoming events casting their shadows.

 

The handling of these three events by the so-called monitoring and human rights organizations and civil society as well as foreign correspondents shows outright bias and selective monitoring. No wonder one Mr. Salim H.Kargbo on FACEBOOK , wrote this damning indictment on SLAJ , as also reported by Awareness Times: Currently under Umaru Fofana, SLAJ endorses illegal muzzling of the independent media, supports interference with freedom of journalists to do their duty and turns a blind eye when foreign journalists are detained unlawfully by political party thugs. SLAJ has gone to the dogs. To the dogs. Totally to the dogs!

 

The only consolation is that the people of Sierra Leone know the man who has the ability to transform their nation positively and progressively and they deliver that message throughout the nation during APC rallies.These organizations can go on displaying their bias and partisan inclinations. The people of Sierra Leone know what they want and will deliver their message on November 17. However, we call on all Sierra Leoneans to help speak out against SLAJ, Guild of Editors, the IMC, Amnesty International, the Campaign for Good Governance and the one-sided foreign correspondents in our country.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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